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July 23, 2013

Is Virtualization Misunderstood?

Ian Armas Foster

A recently published Cisco study found that virtualization, one of the key components of cloud computing implementation, is not well understood in the enterprise community.

Specifically, according to Cisco, “there exists a sizeable knowledge gap between what IT managers and CIOs are reporting about virtualization and what everyday workers know about the technology.” According to the report, 40 percent of the workplace has not heard of virtualization, including 54 percent of the non-IT sector.

This brings up an important question: is it necessary for non-IT personnel to understand on some fundamental level the processes that are driving and enabling their work? Perhaps not, as the study notes that workers understand and are comfortable with things like Apple and Spotify, which offer cloud hosted data storage and disaster recovery.

As it stands, those workers do benefit from virtualization, as it was reported that 46 percent can access their work desktop with any device and 65 percent of those who have had a virus on said desktop have had the issue resolved within one business day. Both aspects draw a direct line to virtualization, showing that perhaps it is not as necessary for it to be understood as it is to be implemented.

However, some of those workers eventually become decision makers. And, according to the study, 80 percent of VPs and SVPs do not understand how virtualization will help their company.

This makes sense in a way, with the explosion of big data over the last couple of years among other things, virtualization to foster a more cloud-friendly BYOD environment may be left by the wayside. It can be difficult to distinguish between which IT initiatives serve a strategic purpose versus which ones enable workplace productivity.

With that said, it will be important for IT managers and CIOs to inform executives on these benefits in order for virtualization and cloud to grab a foothold in enterprise.

“A technology really must attain critical mass before it takes off,” the Cisco report concludes. “Virtualization clearly hasn’t reached this stage. More broadly, the risk that the technology knowledge gap will widen to the point that CIOs and IT managers operate in an arcane field that few understand– is very real.”

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